Monday, February 27, 2012

Ever have one of those life periods where you find the same message in everything you watch, read and do? I think I'm in the middle of one.

Here's the list:
- The Ceejus, my sister, my cousin and I had a conversation a week ago about how we live in a society where most systems - including food supply - are crafted to benefit an elite few.  Not all these systems are inherently bad or evil, but they certainly don't prioritize the interests of those of us at ground level.

- My wife and I flew to Denver this past weekend, and we stayed with The Ceejus' friend and her boyfriend.  The friend is a professional organizer - and regardless of how anyone may feel about unions, this friend often takes very unpopular stands against unfair labor practices.  Not to mention the two of them are among the most generous and gracious hosts I have EVER encountered.  They do what they think is right, regardless of popularity and/or cost.  I admire them for that.

- On the flight back from Denver I started reading the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy.  ***partial spoiler alert***  At my current point in the book, Katniss is struggling with a crisis of conscience.  Does she run for the woods and hide from "The Capitol," saving herself and her loved ones?  Or does she take a stand against the Capitol's tyranny and start a full-fledged revolution?  She's starting to realize that regardless of how difficult it is to stand up against the status quo, she must - because the status quo is killing people just to keep society under control.

- Ceejus is reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and we're watching the corresponding movie at the conclusion of each book.  Last night, at the end of the second movie, she had an epiphany similar to Katniss' based on a comparison to Middle Earth's potential capitulation to Sauron - essentially that it would obviously be wrong to join evil's side just because it looked like evil might win.  Yet so many people do that in our world every day - compromise morals because it's hard to fight against what seems like the natural flow of society.

From my perspective these things all deliver the same message - one must assume complete command and control of one's own life in order to avoid being caught up in a river of poor values that are so easily assumed and assimilated from society at large.  I acknowledge that this post risks seeming cliche and therefore trite - but I assure you that it's not.  When was the last time you stepped alllll the way back from your present life and really looked at it?  Are you doing what you want to do?  Are you compromising your most important values because it's easier than fighting the current? 

Are you assuming active control of your own life?

Think before you answer.

I'm thinking long and hard about my answer. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ode to nothing

Or at least almost nothing.  When it comes to living space, I consider myself a moderate minimalist.  I like empty floor space, minimal decor, and only as much furniture as I need for me, my wife and maybe another couple (out-of-town guests, for example). 

When we bought our house a little over two years ago, I learned that I'm not an extreme minimalist.  I do like "just enough" furniture to make a house feel like a home.  So I went on a bit of a craigslist binge and snapped up a bunch of furniture to fill in the empty spots in the house where I thought there "should" be a certain item (e.g. - a completely empty wall in the living room probably needs a bookshelf).  These were silly, arbitrary rules and as a result we ended up with more "stuff" than we needed. 

-- Side confession:  I'm a hypocrite.  While I do hate clutter, I sometimes fall into temporary bouts of hoarding.  And that's really what happened when I bought my house.  I suddenly had a fortress in which to keep my treasure, so I sought out more treasure. --

We recently moved into a rental condo/townhome, and I am desperate to get rid of anything that we don't need.  We have just the right amount of space for our current lifestyle, and so we do not need anything that does not fit comfortably into that space.

This will be a bit of a struggle, as we have boxes upon boxes of mementos, "stuff we might use for a project," pictures, too many linens and other excessive stuff that we simply do not care about or needSifting through each box will take a while, and we risk falling into the "what could we do with this?" trap. 

That said, I found these quotes - stolen from this post on Apartment Therapy - very inspiring, and I wanted to share them here.  I particularly like number 4, although there are many things I find beautiful.  But to curate is the key.

1 You know you have reached perfection of design not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

2 Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it. - Leonardo Da Vinci

3 The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. - Socrates

4 Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. - William Morris

5 Live simply so that others may simply live. - Elizabeth Ann Seton

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Organizing for Action doesn't always refer to unions

New year, new post.  That's how this works, right?

I want to accomplish so many things this year, this month, this week. 

I think the thing I want most is not to forget about things that I want to accomplish, so it's tempting to blog a list, but I know all too well that blogging a list is the modern equivalent of lip service with no action.

So while I am going to blog an unordered list in a moment, let me say that my most desired goal this year is this:

An original, personalized system for organizing my ambitions.  The clincher: the system should focus on and facilitate action, not simply an empty sense of organization.

That said, here are some things that I want to use such a system for:

- Renting out our Delaware home

- Saving toward a down payment on a new property

- Saving toward a Volvo plug-in hybrid to be purchased in 2014 or 2015, goal is cash payment

- Learning to code - web and iOS

- Designing and identifying material sources for our self-built dream home - Keep in mind Tiny House

- Consider Tiny House as options for facilitating Tyler Pell compound

That's it for now.  This is just a small sample of what I want to work on this year.